Key Trends and Highlights from News Impact Summit: The Future of Editorial

With the autumn conference season in full flow, the Fathm team have been out and about with an ear to the ground for all the latest trends, innovations, challenges, and successes from across the industry.

In this article two of the Fathm team, Francois and James, share their key takeaways from attending the ‘News Impact Summit: The Future of Editorial’ and draw together the things they think you need to know. We hope this recap will be useful both for those who were unable to attend and to reignite the creative spark and keep the conversation going for those who were there.

#1 Repurposing existing platforms

As they continue to enjoy rising popularity, many journalists, creators, and publications have developed their own channels and content for TikTok and other mainstream social media channels. Some, however, have looked elsewhere for the potential to repurpose existing platforms for news content and this was a common theme across conferences this year.

At the News Impact Summit, creator Emilio Doménech López, who has developed his own channels on Twitch with Spanish outlet Newtra, shared his experiences. 

Twitch is conventionally a system for live-streaming gaming and esports, however as López has discovered, it also works for news and current affairs.

On Twitch creators can go live in virtually any setting (goodbye complex broadcast systems) and whilst on the surface this isn’t significantly different from Facebook and YouTube, there are some distinct advantages to Twitch:

  • Chat: the live chat also allows creators to continuously interact with their audience
  • Monetisation: users can subscribe to their favourite video-makers and support them very easily via Amazon Prime (more so than other platforms).

Content options are wide ranging. López, for example, has created livestreams to talk about the misinformation surrounding postal votes in the 2020 US elections, the Capitol Hill riots and the war in Ukraine, presenting a form of real-time explainer for broadcast showing the versatility in terms of content.

Some might see the typical Twitch audience demographic – a largely male audience in the 24-36 age bracket – as a discouragement from branching out to this service. In the experience of López, his channel has noticed a great deal more diversity in its audience showing there is space and appetite for variety and news on the platform, which is good for Twitch and good for López.

The experience of López with Twitch is just one example of how our industry continues to seek out new platforms and experiences for storytelling as it strives to meet audience needs and achieve sustainability.

#2 Establishing trust with audiences

It’s probably no surprise that the topic of optimising for trust, a central tenet of Fathm’s own work, was a core conference theme. 

At the News Impact Summit, one panel that captured our attention was ‘Trust in media in contested information spaces’. Hosted by Zakhar Protsiuk (Kyiv Independent), Alina Zivanovic (RFE/RL) and Adéla Klečková (German Marshall Fund), they shared how they try to build trust with their audiences through honesty and transparency. 

The panellists discussed some of the ways they have worked to establish that trust base.

  • The Kyiv Independent attributs a massive increase of their loyal user base to the media’s honesty about its position towards the war and its ability to create a dialogue through their communities on Twitter and Telegram. 
  • RFE/RL has reworked the “About us” page on their website to be more transparent about its teams and about how they are funded.

#3 Rethinking slow journalism

The amount of focus on social media and instant messaging platforms as sources of news and information might lead you to believe that there was no longer a place for long term content so we were happy to see Teleleu, run by Elena Stancu and Cosmin Bumbut, featured at the News Impact Summit. 

They have spent almost a decade living and working from a camper van, leaving the office environment behind altogether and for the last 5 years, they have been travelling around Europe documenting the lives of Romania’s diaspora communities – whether they are in the United Kingdom, Portugal or Germany (the project is ongoing). 

Beyond an impressive level of dedication to on-the-ground reporting, their work also demonstrates the demand for ‘slow journalism’ and their revenue model is far from conventional including:

  • Scholarships
  • Collaborations
  • Their innovative postcard subscription model

The postcard subscription model allows followers to choose from three different monthly payment models via the Patreon platform; they then receive postcards and letters with updates and stories from the road. It’s an inspiring hyper-personal form of journalism that has created its own community that has come together to support the content it wishes to read.  It also shows that audiences are waiting to be discovered and are prepared to support content that they feel has value. 

In addition to the speakers and workshops, the conference also provided the valuable opportunity to sit down with clients, colleagues, and partners for some in person research and development time. If you didn’t get a chance to chat with us at one of the autumn conferences, we’d love to hear from you so please do contact us.